Surfing In Texas – We finally were able to check out The Drifter starring Rob Machado, and this movie is not your typical surf flick. You will not see huge airs, fast music, and a bunch of surfers charging. What you will see is Rob Machado wandering the globe and believing in the premise that “humans thrive on living in the unknown“, as quoted by Rob in a book he read when he was younger.
The Drifter (as the title would suggest) is the journey that Rob takes embracing the unknown, and leaving fame and the spotlight of a decade of success while surfing the world tour. The film starts out with a fast paced monologue of Rob’s career high points, and emphasizes the microscope that has been positioned on him due to his success. He describes his first taste of fame and the ride home as a 15 year old after winning the OP Junior Pro. While stopped at a stoplight his dad said to look at the car next to them and asked Rob “do you think they care”? This made him realize how insignificant his victory was, and stuck with him throughout his career and success in surfing.
This monologue then cuts in and out from the past to the present, where you find him paddling alone in Indonesia, with no other soul in sight. The first glimpse we have of him surfing is at a huge point break where he is pulling into a huge barrel going left (Rob mostly rides lefts in this film). We then see the only other surfer in the film Kelly Slater surfing with Rob in crowded surf. Rob points out that Kelly can surf crowded waves as if nobody is around. Rob cannot, and it is apparent in this film that he is at his best when wandering, and while watching this film you can’t help but identify with this sensation.
The film starts in Bali, where Rob surfs for three weeks. While he only planned on staying there for one day, he stayed because “in end comes down to the people”. When it was time to go, he bought a motorcycle and took off with only his Hurley backpack and his board. As he is riding, his cell phone rings obnoxiously, so he drops it and leaves it behind on the side of the road. He ends up at a point break where there is a left that breaks for hundreds of yards (this movie was made for goofy footers). The waves at this spot are hollow lefts that break with perfect shape. Rob sets up his tent for privacy from the outside world, where you then see the culture of the secluded spot, with locals surfing, Rob taking pics of them, and a very tranquil lifestyle. Ultimately Rob reflects that he only feels like himself when he is in the ocean, and that he calls the ocean home.
Next you find Rob on old boat with his bike headed to even more remote islands. More lefts are surfed as the film flashes in and out as he rides his bike across old bridges, through rice patties, and along small roads until finally his bike dies. He states: “My expectations make poor travel companions”.The way the film is shot is very authentic, and it makes you feel like you are alone on the journey that Rob is taking. You don’t feel like there is a camera crew following him around, and this makes the film very engaging for both surfers and non surfers alike.
At a bus stop ready to return home via the airport, Rob talks with a local and realizes he misses Mexican food the most about California. The local at bus stop then talks about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terminator, and suddenly Rob realized that he was not ready to go home yet.
He then scores more more perfect lefts with dramatic overhead angles, mixed in with images of wild horses and locals with spears on the beach. He goes back to being “completely alone”, with comfort in the fact that very few know where he is. In fact, he didn’t even really know where he was. The film keeps cutting back to his phone on the side of the road as it keeps ringing along with voice mails to Rob worried about deadlines and a message that Bali has received his lost passport.
The final setting for the film is Rob in a remote village. He helps them dig a well for better access to water, and helps The Sumba Foundation to improve the quality of life for the locals. You see Rob interacting with the village, taking photos of smiling kids and old tribe leaders. He partakes in a tribal ceremony where he dresses in the traditional attire. As he leaves he notes that they make so much out of simplest lives.
In closing, Rob states that surfing is selfish. We ride waves because it feels really good. Where we can give back while searching for those waves, and in turn, it makes waves feel that much better. Ultimately it’s the people around us bring experience to life. Not the location. When you get your perfect house, wave, car, or thing you desire, eventually you end up dreaming of something else. I would highly recommend this film for surfers and non surfers, as it is appealing to a message that is universal to all humans. You can pick up The Drifter Here, and it has a great soundtrack as well. The Drifter will stoke you and challenge you to think about what you are looking for in life, especially when there is no Surf in Texas!